Agriculture Press Release

May 18, 1999

Two Oriental Fruit Flies Found in Tampa

TAMPA State and federal agriculture employees armed with fruit fly traps are fanning out in the interbay peninsula of Tampa after two male Oriental fruit flies (Bactrocera dorsalis) were found in a single trap Monday, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford announced today.

"With a wide host range of more than 170 different fruits and vegetables, the Oriental fruit fly is one of the most potentially destructive fruit fly pests in the world, second only to the dreaded Mediterranean fruit fly," Crawford said. "Many of Floridas crops, including citrus, fall within that host range, which makes it imperative to act quickly and decisively."

Adult female Oriental fruit flies will deposit 10 to 100 eggs under the skin of a host fruit or vegetable. The larvae hatch and tunnel through the pulp, turning it into a rotting mass.

Crawford said inspectors with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the U. S. Department of Agriculture have already begun intensive trapping in an approximately 85-square-mile area surrounding the location where the male flies were detected. Normally inspectors would place traps in a 169-square-mile area, but these flies were found about two miles north of MacDill Air Force Base (where there are no host trees), and the finds are bordered by water on the west and east.

A Department specialist found the exotic flies while inspecting a fruit fly trap in a calamondin tree. The trap was baited with a methyl eugenol lure that is particularly attractive to male Oriental fruit flies. Department inspectors routinely check about 6,200 traps in Hillsborough County, including 1,446 baited with methyl eugenol.

Once intensive trapping determines whether these flies are simply hitchhikers or part of a larger population, agriculture officials will recommend a course of action. Because the methyl eugenol lure is so effective, if more flies are detected, eradication efforts are confined to simply applying the lure bait stations high on utility poles until the male population is decimated. Three Oriental fruit flies were found in June 1995 in St. Petersburg. A three-month survey and eradication program yielded no other flies.

Oriental fruit flies are widespread throughout much of Southern Asia and neighboring Pacific islands. They are established in Hawaii and have been detected and eradicated numerous times in Southern California.


For more information:

Maeve McConnell
(352) 372-3505 x 102

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